After our story on the identification of 26 rental properties accused of discrimination in a recent audit hit newsstands starting yesterday—and after other newspapers published their own reports on the list later—the landlord trade group Metro Multifamily Housing Association issued a statement this morning.
The statement is contrite, saying the group's board of directors is "deeply troubled by the results of the recent fair housing tests." And it promises the group will take several measurable steps over the next 90 days to help its members avoid failing future tests. Among them, supporting expanded—and more frequent—audits, as well as improving the group's training regimen.
"Landlords have a legal and moral obligation to offer the same opportunities and use the same policies for everyone. When fair housing laws are broken, violators should be held accountable. At the same time, fair housing education has never been more important to keep community awareness high and landlords operating legally."
And now the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has also weighed in. In a national story, in the American Independent, HUD spokesman Leland Jones says early coverage (ahem) failed to explain or capture the complexity of actually proving discrimination claims. He also said HUD—which has the authority to take over investigations when it feels like local authorities are "shirking" them—felt no such compunction in Portland.
“As was the case in the City’s decision to contract with the [FHCO] to conduct a ‘test’... the City’s release yesterday of the list—as well as the sending of letters to landlords and owners—reflects the City’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations under the Act.”
Read the full statement by the landlords group after the jump.
Metro Multifamily Housing Association’s (MMHA) Board of Directors is deeply troubled by the results of the recent Fair Housing tests.
Landlords have a legal and moral obligation to offer the same opportunities and use the same policies for everyone. When Fair Housing laws are broken, violators should be held accountable. At the same time, Fair Housing education has never been more important to keep community awareness high and landlords operating legally.
As an organization dedicated to quality rental housing, we need to step up our efforts to ensure Fair Housing laws are adhered to in all rental transactions. We are taking immediate action to address the issue:
• Developing strict protocols and consistent materials to ensure the same information and available units are shared during preliminary interviews.
• Increasing the frequency of Fair Housing training and expanding training partnerships with county and city housing agencies to ensure consistent, available training for all landlords, and to raise the visibility of Fair Housing responsibilities.
• Supporting expanded Fair Housing audits that ensure frequent, independent feedback on compliance with Fair Housing laws.
Taking these steps is a priority for the MMHA Board of Directors and the Association commits to implementing all of these measures in the next 90 days.
Fair Housing isn’t just the law of the land; it is the right thing for all of us to do, and our commitment to every person that wants to call a rental their home.